Last Wednesday, the 1/C midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy found out the community that they will become a part of after graduation. The 1/C entered the company wardroom, and one-by-one, nervously opened up the intimidating manila envelope detailing whether they would report to a ship, sub, flight school, The Basic School, or BUD/s after graduation. Waiting out the wardroom, we underclass could here cheers coming from the other side of the door- obviously a good sign. “Tradition” has it that each 1/C going Marine Corps gets his head shaved by the Plebes, and each 1/C going SEALs or EOD gets his head and eyebrows shaved. My company had six midshipmen go Marines, four go SEALs, and one go EOD; the Plebes had their work cut out for them.
The process for service assignments has changed in recent years. In the past, each community would have a set number of slots. The 1/C ranked in the top 100 of their class would pick first, then the next 100, and so on, until the anchorman picked. This process left little choice for those in the bottom quarter. Now, senior officers help midshipmen find the best match for them. For example, a higher ranked midshipman enters aviation as their first choice and surface warfare as their second. This midshipman would be okay with either aviation or surface warfare. A lower ranked midshipman enters the same choices, but has always wanted to be a naval aviator. The selection board would attempt to sway the higher ranked midshipman towards the surface community. Rankings still matter, but the new process does a better job at factoring in preferences. From an economic perspective, this maximizes utility for the entire class of 2011.
In my company, every midshipman was satisfied with their assignments. As the 1/C filed out from the company wardroom, I realized something… I only had one more year.